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Raymond Lee '23 Launches Fashion Line for a Cause
What is one of the first things you notice about a person when you meet them, posits Third Former Raymond Lee? His answer — their outfit. Recognizing the power of perception, Lee married his passions for art and social entrepreneurship — the effort to create solutions to social, cultural, or environmental issues through a product or service — for a good cause. His fashion line, Current, launched last summer amidst the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I take inspiration from a current event in the world, and in my designs, I incorporate those elements," he says. "All the profits I make from that collection goes to a specific current event."
Lee's first collection is called "Nineteen," drawing inspiration from the name of the pandemic itself, and his experience with virtual learning.
"From a fashion perspective, I designed a virtual learning tracksuit — the hoodie on the back has a robotic character getting sucked into a computer and he's hanging on to one wire and barely holding on," Lee describes. "The pants have different wires and you see [the robot] by himself — to portray he's alone, entangled in his thoughts."
"The third piece was the contamination t-shirt," Lee says. "On the back — [the design] starts at one point and goes to different points to illustrate how the disease spreads."
Lee wrote a business plan for the company and taught himself about marketing and manufacturing. He says learning by trial and error — while daunting — ultimately taught him a lot. Lee creates a mood board, color palette and sketches his designs, then works with a friend who is skilled in digital art to turn his designs into printable files. He's already planning a future collection on wildfires.
Originally from Hong Kong, Lee got his start learning about social entrepreneurship at his school in China. Once he transferred to Lawrenceville, however, he says his ideas were embraced and fostered.
"Lawrenceville makes it really easy for students to take initiative," he says. "I’ve lived in three different countries and definitely Lawrenceville allows me to explore my creative side."
This spring, Lee hosted a series of workshops for Lawrenceville students on the process of starting a fashion brand and the essential concepts of starting any new business. He also was recognized with a Scholastic Art & Writing regional award in the Fashion category.